During year three or four, both the BA or BSc ENVS program involves a 13-week full-time summer internship. With support from the internship program coordinator and a pre-internship job preparation seminar, students are placed in government, industry, or a variety of Non-Governmental Organizations. Students get to directly apply their skills and gain valuable work experience.
Previous interns' experiences:
- Municipal, provincial, and federal governments
- Conservation organizations and other not-for-profit groups
- International relief organizations
- Small and large scale industry in Alberta and across Canada
See some examples below!
Nicholas Wawryk (chemistry concentration)
Nicholas worked at the University of Alberta in the Division of Analytical and Environmental Toxicology under Dr. Xing-Fang Li, a well-regarded researcher in the field of Disinfection By-Products (DBPs). DBPs are formed when natural organic matter reacts with chlorine during the disinfection process. Nicholas worked on developing a method to determine the concentration of the artificial sweetener aspartame and its degradation products in prepared foodstuffs. These degradation products may produce DBPs. He used HighPerformanceLiquid Chromatography tandem Mass Spectrometry, an instrument he was introduced to at King’s. He also learned sample preparation techniques and improved his skills in conducting literature reviews and writing proposals. Nicholas also helped gather and sort literature for a review on DBPs in swimming pools. Nicholas attended various presentations and lectures in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry which gave him a broader perspective on the research occurring at the University of Alberta. This internship improve Nicholas' practical lab skills, an invaluable skill for the workplace, while making useful connections for future endeavours.
Samuel Vriend (biology concentration)
Samuel completed his internship by working for the Government of Alberta as a wildfire crew member based in the Peace River wildfire management area. His job included wildfire suppression, helicopter patrols, fire smarting, public outreach, and extensive training. Samuel learned many skills in training and on the job. These included suppression techniques, chainsaw proficiency, pump setup, mapping and GPS, hover exit/entrance proficiency, helicopter safety, radio communications, and ATV operations. Through his internship, Samuel gained certification as a wildland firefighter through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Additional certification was obtained in air-to-ground radio communications, level two chainsaw operation, wildfire origins investigation, and basic ATV operation. Samuel was part of a seven-person Helitack crew responsible for initial attack on newly discovered fires. In August, his Helitack crew was added to a 20-person crew and sent to fight the British Columbia wildfires near Vanderhoof. Overall, Samuel had a summer filled with adventure and new experiences.
Joel Knoop (biology concentration)
Joel worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) for the summer as a wildlife technician. He worked alongside another King's student and focused on two projects. The first project was CWS’s annual air-ground surveys across southern Alberta. The surveys consisted of identifying and counting all ducks within 200 yards of the road over the course of predetermined 18 kilometres transects. The second project was duck banding in Fairview Alberta over six weeks in late July and August. Joel and his co-workers baited with grain along the shores of several lakes. Large traps were set and continually baited, allowing them to catch and band over 4500 ducks. This work helps in determining population sizes for different waterfowl species and setting hunting regulations within Canada and the United states. This internship provided Joel with excellent field experience and communication skills making it a summer to remember.
Cacey Cottrill (biology concentration)
Cacey worked for the Parks Canada Agency in the Ontario Waterways Field Unit as a Resource Conservation Researcher on the Rideau Canal during the summer. She travelled to all the lockstations along the Rideau Canal from Ottawa to Kingston, where she took water quality samples, talked to the lock masters, and did plant and wildlife surveys. While at the headquarters in Smith Falls, she developed reports and determined whether each lockstation was a viable habitat for a lengthy list of species. This information is used by environmental assessment officers and project managers at the Rideau Canal office to construct Environmental Impact Assessment and Biophysical Impact Assessment reports. This information also helps in the preservation of biodiversity at the lockstations during construction.
Cacey was able to develop a variety of skills including report writing, data entry and summarization, research planning, and plant and wildlife identification. The Rideau Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Ontario and celebrated its tenth anniversary of commemoration this summer. Cacey enjoyed learning about the communities surrounding these lockstations, and the history of the canal, as well as meeting the lock staff.
Ciara Fraser (biology concentration)
Ciara is an Environmental Studies (ENVS) student, with a concentration in Biology. She worked as a field assistant for ENVS Alumni, Denyse Dawe, a master’s student at the University of Alberta. The objective of the project was to determine whether fire helps the endangered Limber Pine species to regenerate. Job tasks included setting up study transects, searching for young seedlings, determining their age, taking core samples of mature trees, identifying plants in transect microsites, classifying soil texture, and identifying burnt trees. She learned how to be an effective worker on a small team in remote locations. She also developed various classification skills used for field biology, as well as what is involved in learning, planning, and executing a successful summer of data collection.
The project fills a significant gap in knowledge as to how fire affects the Limber Pine species, and the findings will aid in future decisions regarding prescribed burns. One of the highlights was visiting the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, which is where all Parks Canada horses are trained. The valley is also home to several herds of wild horses. The summer was the best of her life and expanded her horizons in many ways.
Alexandra Velsink (biology concentration)
Alex worked as an Air Quality Data Technician with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Alex was based out of Edmonton and had the opportunity to work with experts in the air quality field throughout Alberta. Alex’s primary task was to interpret and enter monthly, quarterly, and annual air monitoring reports, as well as continuous emissions monitoring, continuous ambient monitoring, and stack surveys (Relative Accuracy Test Audits and Source Emission Surveys). After the data was reviewed, it was entered into the provincial database. Other tasks included following-up with facilities, internal and external subject matter advice on reporting and regulations, and a range of projects. Alex participated in provincial discussions on renewable energy, the development of a new Air Monitoring Directive (AMD), and a metadata project to define and re-develop the provincial air database. Alex learned that communication is essential to working effectively and efficiently as well as how to develop networks with clients. Not only did Alex get the chance to develop her air quality knowledge, but she also had the opportunity to take part in a trip to Rossdale Water Treatment Plant and participate in water quality discussions. Alex enjoyed her summer with AEP as the Air Quality team made an effort to share their experience and knowledge in the field to enhance her learning experiences.
Forrest Battjes (philosophy concentration)
Forrest worked as a crew leader in Grande Prairie with the Junior Forest Rangers (JFR) in the Government of Alberta’s Wildfire Division. In this position, Forrest facilitated learning experiences where youth gained an appreciation for Alberta’s natural resources. With an emphasis on sustainability and career awareness, Forrest and his seven crew members participated in various projects and educational opportunities. The projects ranged from trail building in provincial parks to planting trees. Program participants toured multiple lumber mills and experienced various forestry operations. The JFR program is diverse in its scope, and it offers a wide range of opportunities for youth. During his three-month internship, Forrest was given a unique opportunity to experience and participate in many fields within the forestry world. This was an experience that tested and increased his knowledge of what it means to work in the environmental field.
Kailyn Wiebe (biology concentration)
Kailyn worked as a Wildlife Technician for Canadian Wildlife Services (CWS). This job entailed two main components: the annual air-grounds survey and banding ducks, both of which required sharp waterfowl identification skills. The survey was conducted in May throughout central and southern Alberta. Teams drove down 18 kilometre transects with binoculars identifying and counting every duck on the ground within 200 meters of the road. The data gathered from the survey was added to existing records, which are used in monitoring population trends and setting appropriate bag limits for hunting.
The duck banding took place around Fairview, Alberta, in mid-July to August. This job started with walking into wetland areas to spread grain to attract ducks. Once the ducks found the grain, Kailyn and her co-worker Joel were responsible for setting traps and checking them daily. They then netted the captured ducks in order to identify the species and then sex, age, and band them.
An impressive total of 4541 ducks were banded in the 38 days Kailyn and her team spent in Fairview. Working hands-on with waterfowl and alongside other CWS staff willing to share their experiences were the highlights of Kailyn’s summer.
Erin Wassing (biology concentration)
Erin worked in the Economic Development and Trade Ministry with the Government of Alberta. She acted as the administrative support summer student in the Assistant Deputy Minister of Economic Development’s office. While the position allowed for the participation in a variety of tasks, she focused on event coordination, program support, information management, and office organization.
These tasks enabled the development of many skills, including effective communication, information synthesis, and political acumen. Erin was assigned independent projects to work on and managed her own time. These solo projects allowed Erin to work with confidential information, teaching her the necessary protocols needed when dealing with sensitive information.
Although she worked in Economic Development, Erin participated in meetings on renewable energy over the summer. She was able to learn more about the intersection between the economy and the environment, which is of interest to her. This opportunity to learn about green businesses, alternative energy, and work on independent projects was personally fulfilling. Working in the public service gave Erin the opportunity to make important professional contacts.
Elise Renchko (biology concentration)
Elise worked for Learn-to-Camp as a summer student for Parks Canada. The objective of the program is to resolve the barriers preventing people from camping and engaging in outdoor activities. These barriers include unfamiliarity with camping, uncertainty about encountering wild animals, and lack of unawareness about local natural areas. Elise was part of a team of five summer students and helped lead guided camping trips at Elk Island National Park. She presented camping workshops and helped design and lead nature walks. Workshops were about campsite-setup, wildlife safety, outdoor cooking skills, fire set-up, safety, etc. The workshops usually took place in Edmonton.
Another aspect of Elise’s internship was public outreach, going to city parks to set up a camping display and talk to the public about camping and outdoor safety. Another purpose of outreach was to promote Learn-to-Camp overnight camping events and encourage visitation to National Parks as well as increase public awareness of biodiversity within Canada.
Elise worked with an array of groups within the city and grew in her presentation and teaching skills. She enjoyed the diversity of the job. This internship improved her critical thinking. Elise enjoyed meaningfully connecting with the public and teaching people about the outdoors in a fun and interactive manner.
Kendra Hutchison (politics and economics concentration)
Kendra worked as an Environmental Research Assistant for Dr. Harry Spaling at The King’s University. The position started in Edmonton for 10 weeks as she prepared for the research trip. She then spent six weeks conducting field research in Kenya. The research was focused on Conservation Agriculture (CA) and a program called Farming God’s Way (FGW), answering the question: “How sustainable is conservation agriculture in Kenya?”
In Kenya, Kendra conducted semi-structured interviews with smallholder farmers and key informants in Tigania West, Meru County, where Anglican Development Services–Mt Kenya East is implementing a CA project. After data collection, she conducted qualitative data analysis of the interviews using NVivo software. The preliminary results of the research were shared with the participants and other community members in a newsletter. After returning to Edmonton, a summary report was written based on interviews from program managers in Canada, an extensive literature review, and the results of farmer interviews. Kendra loved spending time in the rural Kenyan communities, getting to know the people, the language and the culture, and hopes to return again in her future career.
Erin Greidanus (biology concentration)
Erin worked for Dr. Harry Spaling as his research assistant, along with fellow student Kendra Hutchison. The qualitative research project was on “How sustainable is conservation agriculture (CA)/Farming God’s Way (FGW) in Kenya?” Erin’s main role was to interview farmers in Kenya. She spent six weeks preparing, doing a literature review and learning about CA/FGW. Seven weeks were spent in Kenya--first getting to know the community and then conducting 17 semi-structured interviews. The research area in Kenya is semi-arid and prone to frequent drought, and so an important research finding was that CA/FGW is improving farmers’ livelihoods through increased food security, while also being environmentally sustainable through a reduction in soil erosion and an increase in soil moisture and organic matter.
Erin compiled a draft report for Dr. Spaling, which he used as a base to write his research paper. Erin gained experience conducting a formal research project, interacting with communities on a professional level, and how to thrive in a leadership position. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Spaling and to return to a country she is passionate about!